BEND, Ore. - An extensive search for a Prineville man missing since Tuesday continued Sunday in the snowy cold south of Bend, having taken a worrisome turn Saturday as searchers found his pickup truck but no sign of the man.
Deschutes County sheriff's Sgt. Nathan Garibay said more than two dozen people were involved in Sunday's search for Lester Hyder in the still-heavy snow from last week's storms.
The Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue is coordinating the search for Hyder. 69, which was challenged Saturday by sub-zero temperatures and 12-18 inches of snow on the ground, said Deputy Jeff Winters, assistant SAR coordinator.
The weather conditions are "harder on our searchers," Garibay told NewsChannel 21 Sunday. "Sub-zero or very, very cold temperatures, having to maneuver through the snow on foot is definitely more taxing for searchers. Deep snow often also can make mobility with vehicles more difficult."
There was no word late Sunday of any progress in the search. An update is expected on Monday.
A total of. 41 SAR volunteers were assisted in Saturday's effort by personnel from the U.S.. Forest Service and Oregon State Police troopers, Winters said.
Aerial search support was provided Saturday by an Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter and a fixed-wing plane from OSP. Snowmobiles, tracked quads and 4x4s were used in the ground search.
Just before noon Saturday, Hyder's Toyota Tundra four-door pickup with Texas license plates was found by a SAR team in the area of Cabin Butte, off China Hat Road, but he was not with it, Winters said.
Search efforts shifted to the area of Hyder's vehicle for several more hours until darkness and physical exhaustion overtook the searchers, the deputy said.
Hyder's family had been notified of the search efforts and current status, Winters said.
Lt. Chad Davis said Friday they had new information that Hyder was seen in the area of Knott and Tekampe roads in southeast Bend around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, about 90 minutes after his previous last report of being seen, in the Crescent area.
Davis said the sheriff's office was asking the public to watch for Hyder's 2012 Toyota Tundra four-door pickup with Texas license plate GYJ0417 (corrected from the earlier report).
In a Friday evening update, Davis said the search continued, even after nightfall in limited fashion, also involving the U.S. Forest Service, based on the citizen tip off Tekampe Road
Also, an AirLink helicopter crew conducted an air search Friday. Anyone who has information that could assist in the search for Hyder was urged to contact the sheriff's office at 541-693-6911.
Hyder was on the road from Texas to Prineville when he ran out of gas around 6 a.m. Tuesday in Crescent, Davis said. A family member said Hyder is a retired Northern California sheriff's deputy and Marine.
Hyder’s brother, Roy Hyder of Prineville, got a phone call around that time from an Oregon State Police trooper who had found Lester in Crescent, where he’d run out of gas. The trooper gave him a courtesy ride to Gordy’s Truck Stop in La Pine, Davis said.
Roy Hyder then drove to the truck stop, picked up his brother and they drove together to Crescent, found Lester’s pickup and filled it with gas, Davis said.
Roy Hyder then headed back to Prineville, driving ahead of Lester as they drove north on Highway 97 toward La Pine, planning to travel on to Prineville.
But Roy Hyder became separated from his brother after they left Crescent about 1 p.m., Davis said. After reaching La Pine, Roy stopped and waited for Lester. And when he didn’t arrive, he drove back to Crescent, looking for his brother but did not find him.
The roads and skies were clear at that time, the lieutenant said.
Roy Hyder contacted Prineville police Tuesday evening to report Lester as a missing person. Since then, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has been helping in the investigation, since there’s a good chance he went missing in or near the county.
Hyder is described as a white male with a slim build, who is bald and wears eyeglasses. Deputies released photos of Hyder and a truck similar to his.
Davis said Lester Hyder could have age-related dementia, so he might act confused or be disoriented if contacted.